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Dan Ippolito

As Casino City's associate editor, Dan produces and edits all of our weekly newsletters, and he writes about the gaming industry for our websites and the GPWA Times Magazine. Dan graduated from Marist College in 2017 with a degree in Communications and a concentration in Sports.

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Top 10 players in the hunt for 2019 World Series of Poker Player of the Year

29 Jul 2019

By Dan Ippolito
In 2018, Sean Deeb took home the honor of World Series of Poker Player of the Year. Deeb finished with 20 cashes, five final tables and two bracelets last year, adding to his $2,534,511 in tournament earnings.

In addition to winning Player of the Year in 2017, Ferguson finished 14th last year and 11th in 2016.

In addition to winning Player of the Year in 2017, Ferguson finished 14th last year and 11th in 2016. (photo by Wikimedia Commons)

Since 2004, the WSOP Player of the Year has been awarded to the player who earns the most points by playing in any of the 83 bracelet events in Las Vegas and 10 bracelet events at WSOP Europe at King's Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic (15 October – 4 November).

This year, it's a tight race after the 50th edition of the WSOP came to an end about two weeks ago.

Here we take a look at the top 10 players in the WSOP Player of the Year race, how they got there and what their prospects are for this fall's WSOPE:

10. Anthony Zinno (2,443.22 points)
Anthony Zinno had a busy WSOP, winning his second career bracelet in the $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi/Lo 8 or Better event.

The Rhode Island native, who also has two WPT titles, also finished second in the $1,500 Seven-Card Stud event along with another final table appearance in the $1,000 Tag Team No-Limit Hold’em event.

His bracelet victory won him just under $280,000, but if he is eyeing the WSOP POY, he'll need an extended good run at the WSOPE in a few months.

9. Chris Ferguson (2,476.96 points)
While the 56-year-old Ferguson is the 2010 WSOP Main Event champ and was a finalist for the 2019 Poker Hall of Fame, he may be best known for his role in the Full Tilt Poker/Black Friday controversy back in 2011.

That being said, Ferguson isn’t new to the Player of the Year conversation. In addition to winning Player of the Year in 2017, he finished 14th last year and 11th in 2016.

Even though "Jesus" didn’t come away with a gold bracelet in the 2019 WSOP, he still had a very successful summer, recording 19 cashes, including three final tables ($10,000 Razz, $1,500 Limit Hold’em and $1,000 Online No-Limit Hold’em Championship).

8. David “ODB” Baker (2,480.06 points)
Along with his 14 cashes at the WSOP, David Baker won a gold bracelet in the $1,500 Limit Hold’em event for $161,139. This was Baker’s second career WSOP bracelet.

The 47-year-old University of Auburn alum added another final table finish when he came in third in the $10,000 Seven-Card Stud event for just over $100,000. He entered the Main Event as well, but saw that come to a quick close, finishing in 873rd.

Baker is still debating on taking part in the WSOPE to move up in the Player of the Year rankings.

7. Joseph Cheong (2,595.54 points)
Joseph Cheong, from Seoul, South Korea, has been in big spots in the poker world before. He finished third in the 2010 WSOP Main Event after losing a massive pot while he had the chip lead. He has just over $14 million in live tournament winnings, including some from this summer.

With over $7 million in career WSOP earnings, Cheong won his first WSOP gold bracelet this summer in the $1,000 Double Stack No-Limit Hold’em event for $687,782.

In his other eight cashes this summer, Cheong had one other final table appearance in the $3,000 Pot-Limit Hold’em event, and also finished in 209th place in the Main Event.

Cheong hasn’t played in the WSOPE since 2012, but now that he is in the POY race, it will be intriguing to see if he decides to play it for the first time in seven years.

6. Jason Gooch (2,643.72 points)
Jason Gooch, from Texas, captured his first WSOP bracelet in June when he took down the $1,000 Online No-Limit Hold’em Double Stack event. Defeating a field of 922 players, “TheBigGift” Gooch took home $241,493.

In his nine cashes in the 2019 WSOP, Gooch saw one other final table when he finished as the runner-up in the $600 Online Pot-Limit Omaha 6-Handed.

Like Cheong, Gooch will have a tough decision to make. Gooch has never participated in WSOPE, but sitting in sixth place in this year’s POY race may drive him to take part in a tournament that would be new to him.

5. Phillip Hui (2,881.67 points)
Phillip Hui wasn’t always dedicated to being a poker pro. In his college days, he played golf for the University of Texas-San Antonio and a little at the professional level. His first bracelet came back in 2014, but his largest win came in this year’s gold bracelet victory.

Hui made it to four final tables this summer along with winning one of the bigger events in the WSOP schedule. Hui came out on top in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship event for $1,099,311.

This was Hui’s second career gold bracelet. Along with the victory and 10 total cashes in this year’s tournament, Hui’s final tables came in the $1,500 HORSE, $10,000 Dealers Choice 6-Handed and $2,500 Mixed Big Bet events.

Hui is another poker player in this race that hasn’t participated in the WSOPE tournament. That could change this year if he decides to make a big push in the standings.

4. Daniel Zack (3,126.13 points)
Daniel Zack, from Princeton, New Jersey, has no previous experience in the WSOPE ,so his chances at the POY honor may come to an end if he decides to stay away from the tournament in the fall again — but the 26-year-old is still undecided.

However, this summer was very good to Zack. In his 14 cashes at the 2019 WSOP, Zack brought home one bracelet after winning the $2,500 Limit Mixed Triple Draw event for $160,447.

Zack also made it to two other final tables in the $10,000 Razz and the $2,500 Mixed Omaha Hi/Lo 8 or Better, Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo 8 or Better event.

3. Daniel Negreanu (3,166.24 points)
Kid Poker announced last week that he will be heading to the WSOPE to make a push to become the 2019 WSOP Player of the Year. This would be the Canadian poker pro’s third time winning Player of the Year, adding to his titles from back in 2013 and 2004.

Even if the 45-year-old didn’t play in the WSOPE, Negreanu could still say how busy his summer at the WSOP was. The current second-place holder on the all-time money list finished with 17 cashes, including two second-place finishes.

Those runner-up finishes came in the $100,000 No-Limit Hold’em High Roller and $10,000 Seven Card Stud events.

Negreanu hasn’t played in the WSOPE since 2013, but he did leave on a good note. In his final event in the 2013 WSOPE, Negreanu won the €25,600 No-Limit Hold’em High Roller event for €725,000.

Deeb cashed in 17 events at the 50th WSOP.

Deeb cashed in 17 events at the 50th WSOP. (photo by Flickr)

2. Shaun Deeb (3,280.13 points)
After winning Player of the Year last year, Shaun Deeb is right back in the mix, currently sitting in second just behind the leader of this year’s race. Player of the Year and Shaun Deeb seem to be in the same sentence quite often. The player from New York is a three-time winner of the World Championship Online Poker Player of the Year.

Deeb cashed in 17 events at the 50th WSOP, including four final table appearances. Deeb’s best finish at this summer’s tournament came in the $10,000 Dealers Choice 6-Handed event, where he finished in second place for $193,090.

Unlike most of the players on this list, Deeb played in last year’s WSOPE, where his best finish was second place in the €1,650 Mixed PLO/NLHE event. If he does decide to play in the 2019 tournament, his experience from last year could play a role for him to overtake first place.

1. Robert Campbell (3,418.78 points)
Simply put, Robert Campbell was on fire this summer. Out of the nine of his cashes, the 35-year-old Australian made it to the final table in five of the events and ended up winning two bracelets.

His two event victories were in the $1,500 Limit 2-7 Lowball Triple Draw for $144,027 and in the $10,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better for $385,763.

He leads Deeb by about 138 points in the WSOP Player of the Year Race and Negreanu by around 252 points. However, with Negreanu already in for the WSOPE and Deeb still a possibility, Campbell will likely have to participate as well if he wants to remain in first. Campbell has never played the tournament, but we still await his decision.
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